Navigating cultural differences is an unavoidable aspect of life, especially in an unfamiliar environment or foreign place.
Embracing and understanding the nuances of a new culture can be both enriching and challenging.
French expat Amandine Honvault, who has been living in Singapore for four years, experienced precisely this, as she detailed in a YouTube video posted last Saturday (Nov 25).
In the 19-minute clip, she candidly reveals the culture shock and how she adapted when she moved from France to Singapore.
Difference in work-life balance
One of the differences that Amandine shared she had to let go of, is work-life balance. While she hastened to explain that it doesn’t mean she lacks work-life balance in Singapore, it’s certainly different from what she experienced in France.
“In France, we have way more holidays within the year,” said Amandine, adding how one gets almost five weeks of leave days whereas in Singapore, she gets 14 days.
“It can be really tough to live [with] just 14 days,” she remarked, especially for those who love to travel.
However, she did mention she is lucky to be able to work remotely in the month of December, allowing her to travel back to Europe.
She also noted that if public holidays fall on the weekend, you get the Monday or Friday off, enabling you to “strategically” plan your holidays — just like a Singaporean, we might add. Alternatively, she suggested negotiating with your company for a leave allowance of up to 21 days added to your employment contract.
“On a day-to-day basis though, I don’t feel like I’m working more in Singapore than I would in France, if it’s something you’re afraid of,” she reflected.
Another cultural difference she observed, is the way Christmas is celebrated in Singapore.
Amandine noted that in Singapore, Christmas is marketing-driven, with stores rolling out offers and promotions.
“There is no Christmas spirit coming from the household,” she mentioned, highlighting that in France, the holiday is very much a family affair.
With that said, living in Singapore has opened her eyes to many different cultural celebrations like Deepavali, said Amandine.
Yet another hurdle which she had to overcome was the language barrier. Amandine explained that coming from France, her English wasn’t proficient initially, so she started creating content as a means of improving her language skills.
She also took the initiative to learn Chinese, given that her bilingual Singaporean partner speaks the language.
In return, her partner has also picked up French, creating a mutual exchange of language skills in their relationship.
On top of all that, Amandine also touched on other factors related to moving abroad such as building a new social circle, navigating the food culture and learning how things like healthcare and banking work in a different country.
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